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SurF tHis SitE RaNdoMly

Review: Yoshinoya, Hanamaru Udon & Azuki Cafe

>> Friday, March 27, 2015

Overall comment: Fast, most dishes taste above average - good & the udons/rice are quite pocket-friendly.
Halal: Pork-free

Shoppers & those working around Mid Valley Megamall in KL will have even more food options now that 3 restaurants/food outlets have opened! I was quite delighted to find an extensive variety at Yoshinoya, Hanamaru Udon & Azuki Cafe as they offer all Malaysians a quick, delicious & pocket-friendly meal throughout the day. Located at the top floor of Mid Valley Megamall (centre court), these 3 restaurants are easily spotted from afar.

Azuki Cafe offers tea, coffee, smoothies & soft drinks from RM1.50 - RM10.00/cup.

We tried 2 of their more popular drinks i.e. Mix Juice - Osaka Taste (RM10.00/cup) & the Yuzu Soda (RM4.00/cup). The mix fruit smoothie had bananas, mangoes & peaches, so it was actually quite yummy :) The yuzu soda was quite fragrant as well; it gave the simple soda a taste-lift with its zesty, fruity taste.

Hanamaru Udon offers more than just udon! Udon being their main meal plus loads of other snacks for sides.

A variety of smooth, chewy udon meals from RM7.00/bowl - RM14.00/bowl (2 sizes available i.e. small & large).

There are at least 20 different types of snacks available, starting from RM3.00 - RM6.00/piece. You'll definitely be spoilt for choice!

Sushi & Onigiri (small variety just as light bites) 

Boiled/Soupy Sides

Workers preparing the udon dishes

For this pre-launch event, I sat together with some bloggers so that we could try a larger variety of dishes available :D Just look at Round 1 of our meal! Woohoo!

Here are some of the dishes that we tried ;) 

These are like our steamboat/lok-lok snacks - fish/squid balls on a stick! The long one actually didn't look very appetizing, but it's alike the small squid rolls that you get from the supermarket. Nothing very fanciful.

Inari Sushi (RM3.00/piece) & Salmon Onigiri (RM4.00/piece)
I didn't get to eat these but according to those who tasted it, they weren't very satisfied with these snacks. Perhaps we should just stick to the udons here, eh?

Chicken Karaage (RM4.00/stick)
Surprisingly this was quite tasty. It's not VERY yummy, but it stood out as the best among the snacks that we took :P

Chawan Mushi (RM8.00/serving)
Texture was slightly off, but taste was actually quite nice. Instead of putting a gingko nut, there was an edamame in the chawan mushi. Noms :)

And now, for the main dishes (all photos below show the regular bowl of udon)!

Ontama Bukkake Udon (RM8.00 for regular; RM11.00 for large)
This dish is actually very simple, but if you're a soft-boiled egg fan, you will love this cos I loved it! :D

Beef Udon (RM12.00 for regular; RM15.00 for large)
 This was one of the best among those that we tasted that night. It wasn't too salty, fragrant with the beef slices & the beef slices weren't too thick nor tough - just right. The udon was also just nice; not too soft, not too hard. Chewy, smooth & actually very filling!

Tori Dashi Udon (RM10.00 for regular; RM13.00 for large)
We didn't fancy this dish as we found it kinda 'flat' compared to the rest. Feels like a very clear, bland soup for those who aren't feeling very well!

Salad Udon (RM10.00 for regular; RM13.00 for large)
 Surprisingly delicious! You have pretty much everything your body needs in this dish: carbohydrates (udon), vitamins (vegetables), & protein (shredded chicken) & it's generously dressed with fragrant sesame mayonnaise! I would recommend this for a good variety of texture, taste & if you're into trying something different ;)

Spicy Miso Udon (RM12.00 for regular; RM15.00 for large)
 If you like spicy soup, we have a winner here. There's certainly a delightful "kick" to this udon dish.

Curry Udon (can't recall the price)
 Not many people are a fan of this style of udon. I found it not too bad, actually. I've only eaten curry don, so this was something different for me. It was quite flavourful although after eating halfway through, it does feel somewhat cloying/jelak since the curry is thick & so are the udon noodles!

After having all the udon dishes above, we were actually quite stuffed! But hey, there's more to try...hahaha...so we headed to Yoshinoya to complete our meal!

Beef Rice Bowl (RM9.80 for regular; RM11.80 for large)
I've actually tried this at IOI City Mall, so this wasn't something new to me, but it was still delicious. The thinly sliced beef were tender & the rice had enough gravy (not flooding the rice dish) to ensure that all the goodness of the beef flavour is soaked in the rice. 

Ah, Malaysians are indeed spoilt with the many choices & variety of food everywhere we go! If you happen to be at Mid Valley & you would want something fast & good-tasting, Yoshinoya Hanamaru will not disappoint.

Yoshinoya Hanamaru
Lot-T-15B, Level 3
Mid Valley Megamall
Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: (+603) 2201 8789

Craving for Japanese food again,


Review: The Soprano's Italian-German Restaurant & Piano-Bar

>> Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Overall comment: Good food in a comfortable ambiance. If you want to catch up with friends over some good food, this is a good place (before 9:30p.m.). From 9:30p.m. onwards, you can just sit back, enjoy your drink from the bar, & enjoy the live band for the day.
Halal: No

It's been a long while since I had some good, authentic Italian-German food, accompanied by a live band playing & singing at the background. The Soprano's was indeed music to my ears & stomach :P Located along Jalan Klang Lama, diagonally-opposite Pearl Point Hotel, this gem is tucked right above the prominent Newcom Club.

The restaurant boasts of good food accompanied by good music every weekday & loads of fun for diners who love to sing at their open-mic session every Sunday evening. I found this place really comfortable to dine as it's not a "club" with loud music, smokey environment & below-average food; The Soprano's is far from that :)

The bar area

Live band entertaining diners from 9:30pm onwards every weekday

We were introduced to some of their pride & joy that evening, starting the review session with some lovely appetizers, followed by delicious main dishes.

Starfruit Juice
Very refreshing :) No complaints.

Blue Marine Cocktail (RM26.00/serving)
Smothered by luscious dressing (Aurora sauce), you'll find fresh prawns, juicy cherry tomatoes & a slice of lemon above a bed of romaine lettuce. The blue liquid (Blue Marine Ice) below was visually interesting as it helped chill the shrimp cocktail.

More Appetizers!
I must say that The Soprano's kitchen team are very skilled with tomato dishes & dips (truly Italian!). Plain pastries & flat breads went extremely well with their herbed-tomato concasse! Their smoked bacon sticks were also really delicious with some drizzle of own-made chilli olive oil.

Who doesn't like bacon?? I wouldn't mind more!

Cozze Alla Diavala (RM22.00/serving)
Blue mussels sauteed in light white cherry tomato sauce with bread crumbs & a touch of chili.
Mussels in a tomato-based sauce plus a hint of heat from chili tastes REALLY good. There's no 'fishy' smell/taste - just the rich tomato sauce & fresh, 'springy' mussels...yums! I had quite a lot of this dish :P

Linguine al Cartoccio (RM32.00/serving)
Freshly made linguine served with mixed seafood, saute in a light cherry tomato sauce, sliced garlic & Italian parsley, served in white backed foil.
This was served piping hot! Just check out the succulent scallop (star of this photo)! It's a dish for all pasta + seafood lovers. Love the fresh pasta (al dante texture) & generous serving of seafood: blue mussels, calamari, prawns, & scallop.
Prices of pasta from RM22.00 - RM36.00/serving.

Impereriale Pizza (RM32.00/serving)
Tomato sauce with Italian sausages, mushrooms, black olives, red, green & yellow bell peppers, topped with mozzarella & emmental cheese, garnished with saute brown onions, olive oil & oregano.
Such a delicious & satisfying pizza. The crust wasn't too thick nor thin & as expected, the tomato base just tastes fantastic. I found the toppings slightly too 'heavy' for the moderately thin crust, but it's all good - I love generous toppings, especially the load of cheese & meat!
Prices of pizza from RM22.00 - RM36.00/serving.

Teehee...wanted to snap a photo of the cheesy pizza, but the toppings slipped off :P
Slightly too 'wet', but still very tasty...

Master Chef Sergio E Viscuso at work, preparing more pizzas
Master Chef Sergio is a chef to be admired & respected - he's half German, half Italian & speaks fluent Hong Kong Cantonese as he worked in HK for 15 years! Fuyoh!

Agnello Arrosto alla Trapanese (RM48.00/serving)
Char-grilled lamb chops served with smashed potatoes & seasonal grilled veggies & your choice of sauce: black pepper, mushroom, Bearnaise.
Perfectly char-grilled 'til it's cooked on the outside & still pink on the inside. Certainly no major complaints except for the amount of sauce & meat :P Wouldn't mind having more!

Baby Rippen (Best for 2 persons)
Oven-roast baby pork ribs tossed with mixed berries & a maple glaze, served with pan-fried potatoes, red cabbage & sauerkraut.
I have to say that the baby ribs were really tender (meat detaches from the bones so easily...slips off!), juicy & flavourful with the own-made barbecue sauce. It was slightly too sweet for me as I prefer a more 'smokey' taste for the sauce, but overall, this was a delicious dish, suited for meat/pork lovers!

Char-Grilled King Tiger Prawns (RM42.00/serving)
Served with a lemon-butter caper sauce & a side salad
Something really different, unique & appetizing. The 'zing' from the capers gave the fresh prawns a 'fun' note :)

Pilzen Suppe/Mushroom Soup (RM26.00/serving - photo below was tasting portion, I believe)
Creamy wild mushrooms (3 types) soup served with garlic bread.
Smooth, creamy & fragrant. I love the 'earthy' wild mushrooms taste, but wish that the mushrooms were slightly more 'coarse' so that there's a different layer of texture to the soup.

The evening ended with some drinks from the bar, which I didn't get to try since I had to rush back home for work/night call :( However, I must say that this restaurant is a good option for couple dates, family functions & even catch-up with friends. It's definitely a must-try restaurant for tomato-base lovers; the intense tomato & herbs taste was just satisfying (I'm a big fan of tomato-base dishes, so I was really happy). I look forward to be back there soon! *yums*

The Soprano's Italian-German Restaurant & Piano-Bar
Lot. 1, 1st floor, Newcom Club
413, Batu 5, Jalan Klang Lama
58000 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: (+603) 7972 8363
Business hours: 12:00p.m.- late daily

Presentation: * * * *
Price: * * *
Environment: * * *
Taste: * * *
Service: * * *


Loved the intense tomato-based dishes,


Review: Tim Ho Wan Malaysia

>> Friday, March 13, 2015

Overall comment: Premium-style Hong Kong dim sum; it's the well-known 1-Michelin star restaurant in Hong Kong! The taste & quality of the food is quite hyped-up in my humble opinion. Overall, decent dim sum, but I felt the price was somewhat too high for my budget. I've yet to try the original Hong Kong outlet...only then I can do a proper comparison ;) Read on for greater detail!
Halal: No

Who hasn't heard of Tim Ho Wan? It's so famous in Hong Kong that soon-becoming-kiasu Malaysians would queue up for more than an hour just to have their quota of dim sum for the week at The Gardens, Mid Valley Megamall.

Tim Ho Wan Malaysia opened it's 1st restaurant late last year, seeing a sea of hungry diners queuing up for some authentic Hong Kong dim sum. According to the head chef, the taste is very similar to Hong Kong's outlets.

This is on a weekday night!
Maximum capacity downstairs is 100 persons.

There are 2 major sections of this outlet of Tim Ho Wan: downstairs (you'll need to queue up & wait for a seat) & upstairs/private rooms - 2 rooms (requires reservation & a minimum amount of spending).

Seating arrangement upstairs
Even the dishes are presented slightly differently (with more class/deco). You'll need to spend a minimum of RM50.00/person in order to qualify for this premium space. This area can fit up to 48 persons comfortably.

There are only 2 rooms
To reserve a private room for your meal, you'll need to spend a minimum of RM50.00/person plus pay an additional RM38.00 (pay for privacy & own space).

This review was to introduce their 3 latest launched dishes i.e. Crystal Shrimp Roll with Century Egg (水晶松花虾卷) (RM 10.50), Signature Five Treasure (龙凤酿五宝) (RM12.50) & Steamed Chicken with Fish Maw (北菇棉花鸡) (RM 11.50).

Three latest dishes
Tim Ho Wan Malaysia will launch new dishes every once in 2 months.

Steamed Chicken with Fish Maw (北菇棉花鸡) (RM 11.50/serving)
It's an interesting variety of premium ingredients, elevating the humble steamed chicken dish to another level. I didn't find this a "wow" dish, but it's a dish that is certainly familiar (can't go wrong), safe & homey.

Signature Five Treasure (龙凤酿五宝) (RM12.50/serving)
Malaysia is well-known for Yong Tau Foo, but so is Hong Kong. To maintain an acceptable level of quality, Tim Ho Wan uses chicken & prawns as the stuffing. It's almost impossible to find the same type of fish used at the Hong Kong outlets of Tim Ho Wan here in Malaysia (and have it fresh). I found this dish just okay. Unfortunately, my share of the 'treasure' wasn't the best; 1. The eggplant that I took was half-cooked & still partially raw & 2. the chicken paste stuffing in my taufupok wasn't cooked/raw as well & I ate the whole thing out of courtesy..,it was still soft & mushy, not firm like chicken meatballs (since the head chef kept watching me - I was asking a lot of questions & giving not-so-positive feedback to his horror...hahaha..I blame myself for being too stupid to eat up the whole taufupok. Sigh.). I had to bear the consequence of food poisoning the next day - raw chicken yo!

Crystal Shrimp Roll with Century Egg (水晶松花虾卷) (RM 10.50/serving)
 This is one of the best among the 3 new dishes although I prefer the 'crystal skin' to be thinner. You'll find succulent, fresh shrimps, a slice of century egg, asparagus & fish roe, generously bathing in abalone sauce. Pretty tasty.

Tim Ho Wan is well-known for their Big Four Heavenly King (四大天王). If & when you're here, you have to order the Baked Bun with BBQ Pork (脆皮焗叉烧包), Vermicelli Roll Stuffed with Pig’s Liver (黄沙猪润肠), Pan Fried Carrot Cake (香煎萝卜糕) and Steamed Egg Cake (香滑马来糕). The Baked Bun with BBQ Pork is a MUST! 

Baked Bun with BBQ Pork (脆皮焗叉烧包) (RM10.80/3 buns)
Alike the "polo" bun in Hong Kong or the Malaysian version of "rotiboy", Tim Ho Wan's baked "char siew bao" has that fragile, crispy, flaky, buttery crust enveloping the bun. The trick is to put the whole bun into your mouth & lick off the crumbs from your mouth instead of tearing the bun apart with your hands like the usual steamed "char siew bao". This will ensure you don't 'waste' the crumbs onto the plate. I must say that I'm most pleased with this dish among the 25 dishes available on the menu. Tim Ho Wan Malaysia could sell up to 15k - 20k plates a month!

My itchy fingers wanted to open the bun for the camera, but I was anxiously warned by the head chef to just put the whole bun into my mouth. He was VERY particular with the way the diners enjoy his food...hmm...chill, chef, chill....

Vermicelli Roll Stuffed with Pig’s Liver (黄沙猪润肠) (RM10.80/serving)
It's my 1st time tasting pig's liver in a Hong Kong 'chee cheong fun' & I actually liked it. I like the fact that it's very much like the flavour of "ngap yuen cheong" (duck's liver Chinese sausage). I'm not a fan of pig's liver, but this one is actually quite tasty. The liver had some wine, thus the fragrance.

Pan-Fried Carrot Cake (香煎萝卜糕) (RM9.80/serving)
I love carrot cake & this one is actually pretty good. Chef said that they use a ratio of 6 radish: 1 flour to make the carrot cake, thus the texture is slightly softer. Reminds me of my uncle's & bestie's mum's home-made carrot cake. I think they can start a pan-fried carrot cake business! This version has some "lap cheong" inside as well. Yums. I love the slight variety of texture.

Steamed Egg Cake (香滑马来糕) (RM7.80/serving)
This steamed "malaiko" is one of the pride & joy of Tim Ho Wan. It's soft, fluffy & "bounces back into shape" when you press on it! The flavour is also fragrant (eggy). I just find it too costly to pay for a simple steamed egg cake...haha.

Braised Chicken Feet with Abalone Sauce (鲍汁焖凤爪) (RM9.80/serving)
If you're a fan of chicken feet, you could give Tim Ho Wan's version a try. It's not the oily fried chicken feet, but a tender, braised chicken feet in flavorful abalone sauce. Nothing very spectacular though.

Beancurd Skin Roll with Shrimp (鲜虾腐皮卷) (RM10.80/serving)
For those who fancy fried dim sum, this wasn't too bad. The shrimp filling were firm, fresh & the beancurd skin was crispy. I found this slightly too salty for my liking, but it may be just that day's batch.

Pork Rib with Black Bean Sauce (豉汁蒸肉排) (RM8.80/serving)
Tender, juicy pork ribs. Simple, humble, consistent.

Glutinous Rice with Lotus Leaf (古法糯米鸡) (RM12.80/serving)
Tim Ho Wan's version of "loh mai kai" is wrapped in lotus leaf. It's very fragrant with the lotus leaf, the glutinous rice was soft & the overall ingredients & flavor is commendable.

Tonic Medlar and Osmanthus Cake (杞子桂花糕) (RM6.80/serving)
We ended the review with one of their desserts. I found this very interesting. The texture of this 'cake' is a cross between the usual jelly & konyaku jelly. The wolf berries were sweet & the dessert is refreshing.

If you haven't tried Tim Ho Wan, I reckon it's good to try at least once. For fans of Tim Ho Wan, they will be opening their 2nd outlet at 1 Utama (beside Aeon) by the end of next month, April 2015. As for whether I will go again, I may think twice since the only thing that would draw me back to Tim Ho Wan is the Baked Bun with BBQ Pork. I need to get a fat bonus before stepping foot into Tim Ho Wan. Their prices are slightly too high for my budget, even if it's for 'good' dim sum.

Tim Ho Wan (添好運)
27-G, Ground Floor,
The Boulevard,
Mid Valley City,
58200 Kuala Lumpur.
Note: In front of the fountain of The Gardens
Tel: (+603) 2201 5081
Fb: fb.com/TimHoWanMalaysia
Instagram: @timhowanmalaysia
Business hours: Mon-Fri: 10:00a.m. – 10:00p.m.; Sat, Sun, Public Holidays: 9:00a.m. – 10:00p.m. (Last order at 9:30p.m.)

Still missing the baked 'char siew bao',

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